Largest Seizure of Illegal Cigarettes in History

Sunday, May 17, 2009
(photo: Mississippi Office of the State Auditor)

Law enforcement officials in Mississippi seized the largest quantity of black market cigarettes in U.S. history last month. Totaling 200 million cigarettes, and valued at $20 million, the bust represented three times the value of all cigarettes seized by customs officials in the United States in 2008, and more than 10 times the value of all customs seizures so far this year.

According to The Center for Public Integrity’s International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, approximately 600 billion cigarettes, or 10% of the entire worldwide cigarette market, are smuggled across national borders each year. The illicit trafficking has made tobacco the most widely smuggled legal substance in the world, financing organized crime syndicates and robbing governments of millions of dollars in tax revenues.
-Noel Brinkerhoff


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